Self-care Class Reflection: How to manage stress

In the fall of 2020, I found myself waving the white surrender flag saying, “this is too much.” Everything felt SO big and so hard and I thought, I can’t live like this anymore. 

At the time I was a mom of two with another one on the way. Jaxlee was doing remote kindergarten– which is an entire blog post (book?!) in and of itself. I was running two businesses. And I was physically, emotionally and mentally exhausted. I started looking for “tools” to help me cope and carry the weight of my responsibilities, but nothing stuck.

The holidays came and went, I gave birth to my third child… and somehow it was spring 2021 and I found myself in the same loop, thinking “This is too much, I can’t live like this anymore.” My body was failing me, my patience didn’t exist, and I wasn’t who I wanted to be as a mom, wife, friend etc. 

One day in my inbox, an email was the “tool” that I didn’t know I had been looking for but so desperately needed: Strategies for Self Care course from the Radical Wellness Collaborative

Here’s the part of the email that stuck out to me: 

“There’s no question we’ve had to deal with more stress and uncertainty in the past year, so I wanted to find practical and accessible ways to help people better manage stressful times and grow their capacity for joy and fulfillment. Think of this group as a road to recovery for those of us experiencing burnout, and a jumpstart into feeling connected to yourself, and others, again.”

I felt seen, like someone named the root of my issues.  So naturally I clicked purchase. 

To be honest, I used to roll my eyes at the phrase “self care”, probably because our culture has co-opted the phrase as a sales-pitch or marketing tactic. I see “buy the handbag” or “indulge in the pedicure” all in the name of ‘self care’. I don’t know about you, but a handbag or a pedicure doesn’t leave me feeling like a better person or less stressed once I walk out of the store or the salon. Therefore I was not sold on the idea. 

But this was different. 

As I dove into this class I learned so much about stress, stress cycles, and ways to complete the stress cycle in order to maintain my personal well being. A version of self-care I could get on board with. 

Here’s was my big “aha” moment, the idea that’s shifted how I view what’s happening to me and in my body when I’m under stress:

In order to rid our body of stress juice, we have to complete the stress cycle. 

Following is a list of ways to complete the stress cycle:

  1. Movement (the most effective and beneficial)
  2. Breath work 
  3. Positive social interaction
  4. Laughter 
  5. Affection
  6. Emotional expression (crying)
  7. Creative expression

Now that the four-week course is done, here are my biggest takeaways:

  • Self-wellness is something that I actually have to put in my schedule and carve out time for, otherwise it won’t happen. 
  • I am able to identify stressful situations/triggers and evaluate my response and feelings. Then I can plan how I am going to complete the stress cycle whether it be movement, breathing etc. 
  • I am working on being able to identify the tension in my body and how I carry my stress physically. Then releasing it or stretching and letting go. 
  • Sitting on my phone scrolling through social media is not “me time”. I am practicing taking the time I normally would be doing this and choosing a way to complete the stress cycle. 
  • We underestimate the toll stress takes on our body and our health— both physical health and mental health. This helped me connect the pain in my body to some of the stress I carry and hold onto. 
  • The biggest thing I struggle with is asking for help. I am practicing getting comfortable asking for help, stating my needs, and allowing my community to support us. 

Phew. I could go on about what I learned, but this is the big stuff that I’m working through and putting into practice. I think so many of us are carrying stress– more than we’re used to– and we’re just marching forward, hoping the situation will change.

But I’m not going to wait for the situation to change; that’s outside of my control. I’m going to, instead, focus on what I can control, which is how I use this new knowledge to make sure I’m well. 

Because I can’t love my husband and kids, I can’t be the mom I want to be if I’m not okay, if I’m not actively dealing with the weight of everything that’s on my shoulders.

I hope this gives you permission to do the same for yourself.

xoxo,

Emily

Here are a few resources:

Books: 

  • How to Do the Work by Dr. Nicole DePera
  • Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle by Emily & Amelia Nagoski
  • The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel Van Der Kolk
  • The HeartMath Solution by Lew Childre
  • Breath: The New Science of A Lost Art by James Nestor

Podcasts: 

  • Unlocking Us with Brene Brown (the one with Emily and Amelia!)
  • Self Healers Podcast (by Nicole DePera)
  • Tara Brach’s Meditations

Apps:

  • Treequility (Forest Bathing)
  • Tapping Solution (EFT meditations)
  • Breathwrk (Breathing Exercises)
  • Center (Meditation/ Mindfulness)

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  1. Amber says:

    Ummmm, best blog post yet! So full of tools to help us grow! Loveddddd this one!!!!

  2. Mary yates says:

    This is a good post

  3. Lauren says:

    Great post and I’m already listening to def healers podcast- thanks!

    What was the course you took or info on that resource ? May be something I want to check out in the future. Sorry if I missed it.

  4. Lauren says:

    Great post and I’m already listening to self healers podcast- thanks!

    What was the course you took or info on that resource ? May be something I want to check out in the future. Sorry if I missed it.

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